I was asked to help get this message out. I read it and have a mixed response. Firstly I think that it sucks that independent midwives are being assumed guilty until proven otherwise. I don’t know if the same rules apply to hospital midwives- I don’t think so. I’m sure that there are many midwives who have had complaints made against them by parents and the midwife in question has still been allowed to practice unsupervised while the complaint is being processed. So I see this as no fair.
Secondly, I realise that the rule in question is not designed to alienate independent midwives but to keep women and babies safe. There is a need to make sure women and babies are protected from midwives who may not practice with the best judgement. Lets face it, poor judgement is present in all professions. Homebirth midwives, hospital midwives and obstitricans are all capable of negligence and bad judgement calls. Unfortunately, the law makers just don’t get it. They make their laws with the commonly held assumptions that homebirth is dangerous and homebirth midwives are cow
boysgirls while hospital and obsitricians are safe. Every homebirth midwife I have ever met has been passionate about supporting women in a compassionate manner with safety as their number one priority. It’s sad that they have to prove this rather than for it to be the assumption, especially when the opposite is true for hospital midwives and doctors.
Anyway… Here is the email I was asked to circulate. It outlines the problem, gives info about the upcoming senate enquiry and a template you can use to make a submission. Feel free to republish and circulate as you see fit. The deadline for responses for the senate enquiry is Thursday. It’s very soon.
Renee Adair writes:
There is currently a major problem occurring with the process of complaints about midwives.
Several midwives around the country have had conditions placed on their registration due to complaints. These complaints are mostly from hospital staff when a labouring woman and her partner are transferring from a homebirth. Most of these restrictions demand that the independent midwife can only practice midwifery within a hospital birthing unit. This brings their homebirth practice to a screaming holt, leaving their women without a care provider and the midwife without an income!
The process as it currently stands is this –
The hospital staff or anyone put in a complaint to the Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMB) about a midwife. The Board meet monthly and decide whether the complaint needs to go to investigation or not. In some cases they’ll decide it doesn’t need an investigation and the conditions will automatically go onto the midwives registration.
If they decide it needs investigating they slap ‘interim conditions’ on the midwives registration. In the case of homebirth midwives the conditions are “Must work only in a hospital and under supervision”.
The investigation then goes to the HCCC and the conditions remain on the midwives registration until the investigation is complete.
Basically, it is a matter of midwives being found guilty until proven innocent.
Investigations can take a year or more. This is leaving many women without a midwife (some are 39 weeks pregnant) and leaving midwives without income – and for some it could be a matter of losing their home, as they cannot pay their mortgage etc.
What needs to be made very clear is that this process of complaints is unfair, unjust and unethical. No conditions should be placed on any midwife until the investigation has taken place. Unless of course it was something incredibly bad like a midwife turning up to a birth intoxicated, sexual abuse – that sort of thing.
We only have 2 days to submit to the inquiry and shake up this disgusting injustice put upon our independent midwives who are brave enough to continue to work in what is now a minefield.
We need your help!!! We need you to have your say at the
Senate inquiry into the administration of health practitioner registration by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
Information about the Inquiry
On 23 March 2011 the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees for inquiry and report.
Inquiry into the administration of health practitioner registration by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
Submissions should be received by 14 April 2011. The reporting date is 13 May 2011.
The Committee is seeking written submissions from interested individuals and organisations preferably in electronic form submitted online or sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attached Adobe PDF or MS Word format document. The email must include full postal address and contact details.
You can cut and paste the template below and just forward that on or feel free to cut and paste from anywhere on this email and create your own submission.
We must bombard them.
The potential for this to happen to any midwife is very real, which then puts many, many women in a position of either being forced into birthing in a hospital or freebirthing.
It is independent midwifery and your freedom of choice that is under attack and it must stop here.
PLEASE circulate this email far and wide and get writing ASAP!
With love, respect and gratitude,
SEE BELOW FOR TEMPLATE
To whom it may concern,
The current situation by which independent midwives are being processed if there has been a complaint against them is totally unacceptable, unfair, unjust and unethical. No conditions should be placed on any midwife before an investigation has taken place.
I have grave concerns that at any time my midwife could find her registration under restriction and this would exclude her from continuing to be my main care provider. This will force me into the hospital system or to choose to free birth.
I request that an urgent review of this process takes place immediately and that some balance be resorted. Midwifery and homebirth is not a crime.
PLEASE SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME.